Journeys in Yoga has a commitment to SEVA (Community Service). Every Sunday, a “donation” class is held at noon; the students give whatever they want to give financially, and Journeys donates 100% of the proceeds to a selected charity. (Teachers vary Sunday to Sunday; you are welcomed whether you are a beginner, experienced, or somewhere in between.)
For the next five weeks, Journeys is donating proceeds from the Sunday noon class to the FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, which provides free legal services to victims of human trafficking. In addition to legal services, the Center has found itself providing for other needs of trafficking victims, including helping them find work and housing, and facilitating reunification with their children. Survivors of trafficking (at least those who cooperate with law enforcement) are entitled to permanent residency in the United States, but this road to residency is VERY expensive. Survivors must provide official translations of their birth certificates and other documents, obtain thorough medical examinations, and pay court fees.
Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It is “the sale, transport and profit from human beings who are forced to work for others. Against their will, millions of people around the world are forced to work for the profit of others, for example by begging, prostitution, involuntary servitude, working in sweatshops – even becoming child soldiers.” (This definition is from this resource.) The United Nations has estimated that more than 2.4 million people are currently being exploited as victims of human trafficking (Read more from the UN here.) In Tallahassee, the survivors being helped by the Center were trafficked for sex and work.
In order to give you just a hint of the typical mindset of a trafficking victim, I have adapted material from The Campaign to Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking to present it from the perspective of a victim:
You are a young woman from Russia, the Ukraine, or Central Europe, promised marriage, a good job to be able to send money back home, and a better life, only to learn once you are in a foreign country, completely cut off from your support system and your family, that none of it is true.
You find yourself trapped in the sex industry, the service industry, in sweatshops or in agricultural fields – living daily with inhumane treatment, physical and mental abuse, and threats to yourself or your family back home. You may not know what city or country you are in because you are moved frequently to escape detection.
You fear or distrust the government and police because you are afraid of being deported or because you come from a country where law enforcement is corrupt and feared. You may feel that it is your fault that you are in this situation. As a coping or survival skill, you may even develop loyalties and positive feelings toward your trafficker or try to protect them from authorities.
(For comprehensive information about Slavery, visit this website.)
Consider joining us at Journeys in Yoga Sundays at noon through the month of May to experience the peace that yoga brings while helping provide peace of mind to these women who are trying to rebuild their lives after trials that we can barely imagine.
If you can’t come to the donation class but would still like to donate, please contact Vania Llovera, Assistant Director of the Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850/644-4551.